Ex-CJ calls for people’s initiative to scrap pork

Republic Act 6735 allows the public to directly propose a bill, backed by the requisite number of signatures of registered voters, says former Chief Justice Reynato Puno

PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE. Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno is shown in this file photo taken in 2012. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A former chief justice of the Supreme Court believes that “legislators have lost their moral authority to be the guardians of people’s money.”

So if lawmakers cannot be expected to take steps to abolish any form of pork barrel that they enjoy, then ex-Chief Justice Reynato Puno called on leaders of the One Million People March Movement to do it themselves.

Puno advised them to use the people’s initiative mechanism under Republic Act 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Law. It allows the public to directly propose a bill, backed by the requisite number of signatures of registered voters.

The proposed bill has to be endorsed by at least 10% of the total number of registered voters nationwide. In this 10%, at least 3% of voters in each legislative district should be represented.

There are currently about 50 million registered voters in the Philippines.

While he is not discouraging the One Million People March organizers from holding rallies in public places to help raise awareness of the pork barrel and other misused funds, Puno said they should provide the public with “a specific solution to the problem.”

They can do this, he said, “by proposing a comprehensive law that will extirpate it or at the very least, checkmate [the] misuse and abuse” of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund, the executive’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, among other discretionary funds.

“The people should unsheathe and use this power to make laws whenever their elected representatives default in the performance of their sacred duty to enact laws to promote the general interest, or worse, whenever they betray the public trust,” Puno said. – Rappler.com 

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